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Old 02-14-2013, 11:36 AM   #1
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Do I understand how to install two electric baseboard heaters?


I've done small electrical projects (i.e. wiring new outlets, changing light switches, etc), and I'd like to try installing two baseboard heaters in my basement.

** Basement is already finished so I need to fish electrical wires down the walls **

Please tell me if I understand everything correctly:

1) Install 20A double-pole breaker in electrical box. (240v)
2) Connect 12-2 wires to thermostat. (two hot + ground)
3) Connect thermostat to baseboard.
4) Connect second baseboard to first baseboard.

It seems fairly straightforward. Even though the instructions say to install the circuit breaker first, I'll actually do that last after everything else is wired up.

Here are my questions:

1) Can I use 12-2 wire? Normally I know 240 volt needs 12-3 but since electrical baseboard only needs two hot (and no neutral) I think I can use 12-2.

2) Is it OK to let the electrical wire "hang" inside the existing walls? In new construction I know they would be stapled to the studs but because the walls already exist I can only fish the wires down and let them by "loose" inside the wall.

3) Is it important to place the electrical baseboards where there are NO outlets above them? This will be placement difficult because there are a lot of outlets in the basement.

Thanks for any help!

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Old 02-14-2013, 12:16 PM   #2
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Do I understand how to install two electric baseboard heaters?


1. 12-2 is fine. The baseboards don't need the neutral conductor.
2. Hanging the cable inside the finished wall is fine.
3. What do the baseboard heater installation instruction say?

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Old 02-14-2013, 01:33 PM   #3
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Do I understand how to install two electric baseboard heaters?


I just looked at Cadet and it says not to install under wall outets so I guess I'll have to be careful.

However, what if I plugged up the outlet and just prevent people from using it? It's my understanding that the requirement is meant to protect people from dangling power cords over the heat, so I think all that is needed (to be safe) is to prevent people from using the outlet, right?

Anyways, I'm still trying to decide between a small gas heater or electric baseboard. I only need to raise the temperature slightly (it's heated, but it just stays around 58 degrees), so it seems like even though electric is 5x more expensive, it's cheaper to install, and safer, and it would take me a lot longer to recover the upfront costs of gas (i.e. installation of unit, gas lines, etc).
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Old 02-14-2013, 01:39 PM   #4
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Do I understand how to install two electric baseboard heaters?


How large is your basement...specifically the area you are trying to heat? Is there nothing there now which brings it to 58 deg.? Those portable Eden Pure heaters do a pretty good job in an average sized room. ut a small gas fireplace may be the way to go if it's going to become a family room or room used most often. A few more details, OK?
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Old 02-14-2013, 01:46 PM   #5
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Do I understand how to install two electric baseboard heaters?


OK, the room is 25.5' x 15' and is currently heated by forced air (the registers are in the ceiling which is a drop ceiling).

For some reason, the room is still quite cold and uses a thermometer I've seen it stay around 58 degrees.

One problem is that there are no forced air return ducts but even if I install them I doubt the temperature will suddenly go from 58 to 70...

The other problem is that the finished side of the basement has an opening to the crawl space under the family room. I've sealed off the opening to the crawlspace with a bunch of R-31 insulation but it's still quite chilly down there.

It seems like some supplmental heat is the only answer...

(By the way, we just moved into this house about four weeks ago so I'm not sure how good the outside walls are insulated, etc)

EDIT: If anybody is interested I did some calculations on how much heat I need and given the cost of electric vs gas in my area what is best for me: http://pastebin.com/dsfHQ8P5

Last edited by sofakng; 02-14-2013 at 01:49 PM.
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Old 02-14-2013, 01:47 PM   #6
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Do I understand how to install two electric baseboard heaters?


Quote:
Originally Posted by sofakng View Post
Here are my questions:

1) Can I use 12-2 wire? Normally I know 240 volt needs 12-3 but since electrical baseboard only needs two hot (and no neutral) I think I can use 12-2.

2) Is it OK to let the electrical wire "hang" inside the existing walls? In new construction I know they would be stapled to the studs but because the walls already exist I can only fish the wires down and let them by "loose" inside the wall.

3) Is it important to place the electrical baseboards where there are NO outlets above them? This will be placement difficult because there are a lot of outlets in the basement.

Thanks for any help!
1) 240V does not "need" a certain type of wire.
You can use XX/3 wire and cap off the neutral (white), although this kind of wasteful since the neutral is not needed.
You can use XX/2 wire and re-mark the white with a permanent marker as a second hot. This is typical
Some circuits, like an electric dryer, DO require XX/3, 10/3 in the case of a dryer. This is because an electric dryer is a 120/240V load with both 120V and 240V loads within the same unit.

2) Fished cables do not need to be secured or stapled with in finished walls.

3) Correct. Electric baseboard heat should not be placed under receptacles.
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Answers based on the 2008 & 2011 NEC.
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Old 02-14-2013, 03:04 PM   #7
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Do I understand how to install two electric baseboard heaters?


I did this in my basement 12 years ago and have regretted it everyday since. I got a quote to zone my furnace but didn't want the $1400 fee for that..

The problems I see are:

  1. Electric is very expensive relative to NGas. In my area gas is roughly 25% the cost of electric.
  2. The trouble with electric is someone turns up the line thermostat for a Saturday afternoon but forgets about it and you are burning 9 per kWh thereafter. That can add up.
  3. Your forced air system is dead in the water without cold air returns. The system is just pressurizing the basement and then airflow gets choked off. Run a couple well placed cold air returns down at the floor level to get some airflow.
  4. The best answer is to add a separate zone the area off of the furnace but this is pricey and payback may be too far out for you.
  5. A sealed gas insert in a fireplace can throw off a lot of heat if you have a fireplace down there. I put one in my upstairs fireplace to replace a gas log and can't believe what a difference it makes (sealed unit).
  6. Even if you do go with electric heat think of it as supplemental. Fix the obvious air leaks and drafts. Add the cold air returns to get some cheap BTUs from the main furnace and then just top up with the expensive electric BTUs. Consider more supply ducts if possible and match sq in of supply to sq in of return ducts (slightly over size return is even better).
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Old 02-14-2013, 03:24 PM   #8
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Do I understand how to install two electric baseboard heaters?


You can't plug up the receptacles to prevent use. You must locate the baseboards so they are not under the receptacles.
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Old 02-14-2013, 07:17 PM   #9
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Do I understand how to install two electric baseboard heaters?


I like the gas fireplace idea. If you don't have a fireplace, Right now, you can get some good deals on entire gas fireplace assemblies at the big-box home improvement stores. Check them out if you've got gas heat already, all you need to do is run a gas line to it. Not only will you have supplemental heat, you will have "atmosphere" and also a source of backup heat if the power goes out...most gas fireplaces don't require electricity to work
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Old 02-14-2013, 07:23 PM   #10
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Do I understand how to install two electric baseboard heaters?


You could also look into one of those new pellet stoves.
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Old 02-14-2013, 07:53 PM   #11
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Please don't quote spam, thank you.
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Old 02-15-2013, 02:39 PM   #12
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Do I understand how to install two electric baseboard heaters?


Quote:
Originally Posted by sofakng View Post
OK, the room is 25.5' x 15' and is currently heated by forced air (the registers are in the ceiling which is a drop ceiling).
I heat my lower level, a walkout basement with a small 24,000 BTU gas fired ventless space heater. The LL tends to stay at 63 degrees in the winter, and when I fire up the heater, it's 72 in less than 30 minutes....and it is a 1500 sq. ft. area which is being heated. I too considered electric heat in that area. But I am very happy with the look of the fireplace, the heat it puts out and how quickly it warms up the room. If you can do that, I would recommend it.
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Old 02-15-2013, 02:59 PM   #13
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Do I understand how to install two electric baseboard heaters?


Quote:
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a small 24,000 BTU gas fired ventless space heater
I really don't like the ventless heaters. They create a ton of water vapor (a by product of NGas combustion) but I swear they create CO and CO2 pollution. I had a ventless in my garage and I would feel sick after a couple hours. I switched to a vented heater and never have this problem.

I am skeptical of the health safety of the oxygen depletion sensor "ventless" gas appliances.

I absolutely love my sealed vented gas insert though!

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